Monday, May 25, 2015

333. Rising in Value: PHOENIX PLATE

One of my first oriental antiques is this so-called 6.5" diameter Phoenix Plate which I bought in the 80s at the famous Aldevinco Shopping Center in Davao--known for its excavated and salvaged antiques. It shows the legendary bird, hand-drawn in the middle of the plate, flying off in resurrection. Alongside dragons and roosters, the phoenix is a popular theme in Oriental art.
In mytholology, it is a long-lived bird that cyclically reborn--thus the phoenix is associated with the Resurrection of Christ. In Art, it is depicted as a very colorful bird, the size of an eagle with a nimbus to symbolize its association with the Sun.
This particular Phoenix Plate is made of glazed clay; I have no idea as to its age, but it does look and feel very old. I've had this sitting on a shelf for s long, surviving typhoons and earthquakes from the last three decades. I am not worried it might break because for sure--like the mythical phoenix--it will become whole and rise again!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

332. Advertiques: PHILLIPS PETROLEUM 66

Loyalty has its privileges, indeed. I bought a few items from an antique dealer recently and he gave me this freebie--a  rather large wooden sign of Phillips Petroleum 66. The energy company was founded  by Lee Eldas "L.E." Phillips and Frank Phillips of Oklahoma in 1917.
A shield logo was created in 1930 for its link to the famous highway of the same number, with a black and orange color scheme that would last nearly 30 years. In 1959, Phillips introduced a revised version of the shield in red, white and black, a color scheme still used by Phillips 66 Co. for the brand. Vintage Phillips signs are highly collectible and many reproductions exist. This wooden sign is definitely a local fantasy version, with cut-out letters and carved background (there's a missing piece below). It must have hanged in a private bar or used to decorate a den or a man-cave. I haven't gotten around to restoring it--it is just stashed away in my garage-- to remind me that once upon a time, petrol was so cheap, that everyone on Route 66 was screaming--"Step on the gas!".

Saturday, May 9, 2015


 Before you start picking for antiques, why not try looking around your own house first? This is just what I did when I started getting hooked on old things. Ever since I can remember, we've always had this stone grinder at home, which was actually used for years in the making of bibingka, tamales and other sweet kakanins (homemade delicacies).
One used a spoon to "feed" the stone grinder with gelatinous rice and water, through a small opening on the top stone wheel. The brass handle is then turned by hand, and the ground rice then comes out of the spout, with a sticky consistency now called "galapung"--the main ingredient in many Filipino sweet treats. This domestic antique bears the name of the original owner, who happens to be the elder brother of my grandpa--Dr. Melecio R. Castro,
The date is carved out on the top stonewheel--Enero 15, 1913--which makes this gilingan a certified antique--over 100 years old! I am glad I saved our stne grinder, which went out of commission many years ago, with the advent of instant "galapung" flour. It still is in great condition, with its original brass turner, that is connected to the stone with a tongue or hardwood, It rests now in my garage, treated like a sculptural piece, the way gilingans are being collected these days as garden ornaments. Hopefully, I will find the opportunity to use this again, to make my favorite tamales. Giling-giling, pag may time!

Friday, April 24, 2015

330. Smokin'-Hot Collectibles: TOBACCO TINS

Packaging tins were first used to keep food in response to the public's acceptance of the germ theory of disease. Today, it is easy to dismiss canned or “processed” food as something people without access to fresh food eat. But in the late 1800s, food in tins was highly desirable. It was considered much more sanitary, and therefore healthier, than food offered in bins or barrels. Eventually, tin packaging was used in other consumer goods  like pipe tobacco. These two vintage examples in my collection are "home antiques", found  inside an 'aparador' (cabinet) of my grandfather. Dill's Best is the older one, from a company in Richmond, Virginia founded in 1849, The brand icon features a lady holding her hair up with a "come-hither" expression. The second example is the more popular Bond Street Pipe Tobacco, made by Philip Morris, which dates from the 1930s. Tobacco tins are always sought after by tobacciana collectors, and in this part of the world, are rarely seen. I have my grandpa to thank for, for these surviving examples--he is no longer with us, but I bet he is somewhere in a quiet corner in heaven, happily and peacefully smoking on his favorite pipe, plugged in with his favorite Bond Street and Dill's Best tobacco!

Friday, April 10, 2015


Davy Crockett was Disney's hit TV series which aired on ABC in one-hour episodes, starring Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett and Buddy Ebsen as his friend, George Russel.The first 3 episodes were edited together as the 1955 theatrical film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, and rebroadcast in color in the 1960s when the Disney program went to NBC.This series and film are known for the catchy theme song, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett".
Disney capitalized on its success by licensing the sale of various types of Crockett paraphernalia, including coonskin caps, coloring books, bubble gum cards--and even 50s glassware such as this, which was part of a set that one had to collect.
Other Davy Crockett drinking glasses came free--in the form of packaging for Welch fruit jelly products. There were glasses of milk white color too, plus related items such as cups, saucers, plates and cereal bowls. This particular example is harder to find as the glass is fluted at the bottom and taller than most plain Crockett glasses.
Fess Parker claimed that his contract called for a percentage of the sales from Crockett collectibles but that this was voided by his contract being with Walt Disney personally,  rather than with the company, costing him millions of dollars of lost royalty from the huge success of Crockett merchandising. As King of the Wild Frontier, he could have gone on a wild rampage!

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Little House on the Prairie was a popular U.S. western drama TV series, starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Karen Grassle, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s and 1880s. Adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder's best-selling series of Little House books, the regular series was preceded by the two-hour pilot movie, aired on March 30, 1974. The series began on the NBC network on September 11, 1974, and ended on May 10, 1982
Part of the merchandise generated by this highly-rated show was this metal lunchbox, produced in 1978, which shows great graphic portraits of the cast.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Rock Hudson was a hunky 6’4” romantic star who rose to fame in the 50s and 60s, while squiring top leading ladies like Doris Day, Lauren Bacall, Liz Taylor, Susan St. James. But his death from AIDS in the 80s revealed his true self. Well, even if Hudson was not totally “out of the closet”, we could still a glimpse of what was inside with this “Rock Hudson Cut-Outs” published by Whitman in 1956.
The book features 2 cardboard cut-outs of the star and several pages of his wardrobe, some of which have been cut. The wardrobe features sports outfits, formal/leisure wear, casuals and even cowboy clothes. This was picked from ebay, for under 400 pesos.
Movie celebrity paper dolls—especially those unused and uncut—are very desirable collectibles, chased by collectors of Hollywood memorabilia, paper dolls, ephemera and Hudson fans.